Clay Shooting magazine readers will know that Eley Hawk has revamped its clay target range recently, with some well-known favourites given a makeover and new ones introduced.
Most striking are the new loads manufactured and marketed with the younger shooter in mind, with bright new packaging, distinctive cartridge cases and catchy names: the Rebel 12 gauge and Amber 12 and 20 gauge.
Naturally, much is made of the Eley-sponsored rising star, and top Olympic Skeet shooter, Amber Hill, who gave her name to the Amber range. Targeted directly at females, Amber is available in 12 gauge, loaded in a vivid pink case, and a pastel yellow in the 20-gauge, 70mm-long cases (as all new CIP approved 20-gauge ammunition must be loaded in yellow cartridge cases to help avoid confusion with 12 gauge).
Amber is also packaged in easy-open outer cases of 250 rounds.
All Amber cartridges are loaded with UK 8 magnum shot and plastic cup wads. The cases have 15mm-high brass plated steel heads and are closed with neat six-point star crimps.
Eley Hawk Amber: Testing
Amber loads were submitted to the Birmingham Proof Laboratory for pressure, velocity and momentum testing. Pattern tests also followed established best practice, being fired over a 40-yard distance to assess longer-range patterning abilities.
The 12-gauge Rebel patterns were fired from the regular Imp Mod Trap barrel used for cartridge tests, while the 20-gauge used the half-choke top barrel from a non multi-choke Beretta Silver Pigeon.
Eley Hawk Amber: Performance
The load has clearly been designed to produce a quick velocity without being overly so, mindful that as speed increases, so does recoil. An important factor with loads for young shooters wishing to shoot plenty of clays is making sure they enjoy it without being punished.
The 8-size shot confirmed its magnum status – crush values were consistent with high antimony, hard shot, which put plenty of pellets in the patterns.
These cartridges are designed to be smooth shooting, hence the shot load weight choice, sub-400m/s velocity and the matching of components to help improve the perceived recoil.
The Amber felt sweet to shoot. An opportunity to assess the smoothness aspect arose during a visit to South Worcester Shooting Ground where an old chum was shooting with a lightweight 20-gauge English game side-by-side hammer gun during a Perrins Owners shoot for vintage guns.
The loads he was using were kicking him hard, so we donated some Ambers – what a transformation. Not only did they tame this light gun but surprised the shooter with its killing capacity, especially the smashes achieved on a stand where the initial reaction was: “These are too far away for this old gun.”
Three of the four targets were duly dispatched, leaving the beaming owner looking to get some of the cartridges himself. The Amber produced clean burns, especially in semi-auto guns with the 20-gauge Ambers leaving just a slight trace of light dust in the Beretta barrels, which is not unusual with the slower burning powders required for 20-gauge ammunition and not significant.
Eley Hawk Amber: Summary
Created with female shooters in mind they may be, but as our testing and trial on the plate and at the clay grounds clearly revealed, the Amber cartridges have plenty of performance to suit anyone looking for a high-performance, smooth-shooting clay cartridge.
The excellent performance makes the Amber cartridges ideal training loads and would be well received for coaching and training sessions. Anyone seeking a lighter recoiling 21-gram load in either calibre could find them ideal for most of their shooting needs.
Offered in shot size 8 only, they are not intended for second barrel Trap targets, but they proved capable at DTL.
The 20-gauge Amber loads competently tackled some tricky Sporting clays. Even at awkward and distant quartering targets from the high tower at Park Farm we were surprised at the breaks achieved with a 20-gauge Beretta Silver Pigeon used for the pattern tests.
The distance required a lot of lead, but once found, the quality of breaks indicated multiple pellet strikes with sufficient energy. These results indicate some excellent ammunition and the value of experimenting with chokes and shot sizes to see what your gun can achieve.
Try some – you might be pleasantly surprised.
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